With the news that CJ Fredrick is going to take his basketball talents and oft-injured body down south, where do things with Fran’s Hawkeye roster sit? I wish CJ a healthy career. At the same time I see him being Kentucky’s Byron Buxton. Although Kentucky will recruit over CJ left, right, up and down, and the Twins have no one behind Buck, so it’s the same only different. But I digress. It will be a very telling offseason for Fran and the Hawkeyes. I’m glad that Fran got that nice extension before the postseason. Gulp. Anyway, here is where things are with the guys who are currently Hawkeyes.
The Hawks May Get One of the Top-rated Recruits in the Nation!
I like it when Kirk Ferentz has described getting his NFL-ready guys to come back for one more year as the best recruit in the nation. That’s borderline not hyperbole. I am on record saying that Joe Wieskamp would benefit from coming back and having the ball in his hands more. Wiesy is a great player and could really expand his game. He has things to work on. CJ Fredrick shot the basketball 228 times last year (8.4 / game). That would have gone up next year. DM to Joe Wieskamp, that’s 10 more shots a game for you, Big Dog! I don’t expect Joe W to come back, but if he does, that’s icing on the cake and a huge “recruiting get” for the Hawks.
Some Bad News
Assuming all of Garza (sad face), Wieskamp, Bohannon, Fredrick, and Nunge are gone (and we know three are), the Hawkeyes are losing 64.1 points and 24.8 rebounds a game. That’s a boatload of points and boards, not to mention experience and leadership.
The Good News
Despite the above losses or potential losses, Fran’s cupboard isn’t completely bare. The thing that is so interesting, exciting even, is that Iowa’s roster and style of play could be very, very different. Fellow BHGP writer @tnels20, among others, and I were discussing a lineup that might look like Joe Toussaint, Ahron Ulis, Tony Perkins, Patrick McCaffrey, and Keegan Murray.
That would be, potentially, the best defensive lineup that has taken the court for the Hawkeyes in decades. From an experience standpoint there would be a learning curve, but this group is athletic and has some nice length. They would need to generate some offense on the defensive end, but how refreshing would that be from a Hawkeye team? This group would be incredible when it comes to transition offense. In my opinion the next Big Three for the Hawkeyes is Keegan Murray, Patrick McCaffrey, and Tony Perkins. Murray does everything well and his length just keeps coming. He’s sneaky-good in so many ways. PMac runs like a deer in transition and has an edge to him, especially on the offensive end. He could be really, really good. Perkins has some great tape from high school and he always seemed like he belonged when he was given minutes this year.
Perk really got my attention when late in the year he drove and tried to posterize a guy. How many times ever has Iowa had a guard who has bad intentions like that in traffic?!? This group may take some lumps, but they will learn and grow.
Connor McCaffery was injured and played through it this year; he will have had two surgeries since the season ended. Connor is a glue guy. If healthy there is a place for him. His basketball IQ and desire are unmatched. It’s debatable as to how many minutes he should play, but there is no question that he can be a leader that this team will need next year. Josh Ogundele will be given an opportunity to provide some post minutes next year. It appeared that he was able to transform his body into more of a basketball body; if he can continue to do this and put the time in for footwork/skill work, he can play 10 minutes a game in the post. Finally, Kris Murray will get extended looks. If he can defend, rebound, and hustle, he can help this team. My guess is that he can do all three of those things.
Incoming Recruits and Transfers
With Iowa potentially losing the outside shooting of Bohannon, Wieskamp, and Fredrick, the Payton Sandfort clock got sped up a little bit. Sandfort has nice size and can shoot the basketball from deep. If he can defend he will help this team. Another interesting development is the reclassification of Riley Mulvey. Mulvey is a post who may be able to provide some minutes next year. Iowa is still in on some players in the transfer portal. Fran is basically on the record saying he doesn’t love going this route, but this is the present and future of college basketball. If the Hawks can get an experienced post I’d be happy. If we can add a shooter who can slash and defend? Yeah, baby!
No matter what, there is some talent on this Iowa roster. Maybe we get Joe Wieskamp back. Maybe Jordan Bohannon comes back as a shooter off the bench. What I guarantee is that the guys currently on the roster see that there is a huge opportunity in front of them to start and get a lot of minutes. This motivation is going to make for some pretty competitive practices and workouts. Competition is never a bad thing. It will be refreshing to see some hungry, athletic Hawks dictating things on the defensive end instead of the other way around. Embrace this change, Fran! We know you can coach offense. Let’s get after people defensively with this new-look Hawkeye squad. Go Hawks!